When Everett’s Brandon Conde got out of Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital last week, heading back to his hometown after a horrific accident that left him paralyzed, he had no idea what the community had in store for him.
Facing an uphill battle suddenly as a tetraplegic, Conde was preparing for moving forward with his new life.
That’s when his niece and nephew, who attend the Whittier School, came up to him with his uncle to say they had to wear all red on Thursday for Brandon Conde Day.
“I heard they were naming a day for me, but I didn’t realize how big a deal it was until my niece and nephew from the Whittier went up to my uncle and aid they had to wear red for Brandon Conde Day,” he told the Independent. “They knew they needed to wear red for me…I had only gotten out of the hospital three days earlier – on Monday – and they were telling me Brandon Conde Day was on Thursday.
“I thought the whole thing was extraordinary to say the least,” he continued. “Usually when we see the community come together it’s with a homecoming that is planned for an entire year. To see this come together in a week or two was extraordinary. It’s unfortunate everyone came together due to what happened to me, but it’s extraordinary that so many were there to support me.”
Conde, now in his 20s, is an Everett High Graduate from the Class of 2012, and was on the 2010 Super Bowl Champion football team. An accomplished football player in high school, many remembered him on the field, and many teachers remembered him from the classroom.
But all shuddered when they learned what happened to him.
Conde said it was July 4 and very hot outside. His friends had been planning on going to a BBQ, but he was about ready to start a job at Logan Airport the next day. So, he said, he decided to just stay home and go to bed.
His friends went on to the party.
Sleeping next to the window, it is believed that he rolled over the screen or sash busted out under his weight, and he fell from the second floor to the pavement below.
Conde remembers none of it. He only remembers being awakened by his friends while lying there – and not being able to move.
“I went to bed, and then I woke up in what seemed like one moment, and I was on the pavement,” he said. “The interesting thing about the fall is my friends were coming back from the cookout, and accidentally found me there. They were coming home, and supposed to go left, but accidentally went right. It was a total accident, but it made them have to come by my house and that’s when they saw me.”
The heartwarming welcome home, however, has roots in his friends Widmac Laterion and Jess Trejo coming to City Hall to ask Mayor Carlo DeMaria to help Conde. His recovery was expensive, and programs to help him try to walk again are also expensive. The tale of Conde’s tragic accident, and his fight to walk again really hit a chord with DeMaria. After talking it over with his staff, they decided to have Brandon Conde Day on Oct. 24. A GoFundMe Page had been established with a goal of $50,000, but at the time only had $16,000. The City and the School Department decided to have everyone wear red, and donations would be accepted all day. The result was the entire city pretty much dressed itself in red.
That night, a Brandon Conde Gala was held at the Schiavo Club, and on Monday Mayor DeMaria announced that the effort had helped the family hit their goal.
“On the morning of October 24, Brandon’s GoFundMe had reached $22,000,” wrote the mayor. “However, the City of Everett, its employees, its students, and its residents knew how vitally important their role was in helping to achieve the goal of $50,000. During the day, over $10,000 was donated directly to the GoFundMe account. The School Department matched this, donating an additional $10,000. Following the City-sponsored Brandon Conde event at the Schiavo Club on the night of October 24, I am proud to announce that we managed to surpass the $50,000 goal. As a community, we raised close to $30,000 in one day, and words truly cannot express how proud I am of everyone who helped make this goal a reality.”
And that’s exactly how the Conde family feels.
“Words really don’t express how much I appreciate and feel for my community,” said Conde. “I just cannot believe so many people rallied to support me.”
His mother, Rosie Sanon, said they have lived in Everett 19 years, and have had kids in the schools and been active in the community. In the midst of their tragedy, they never dreamed so many would rush to their aid.
She said teachers from the Parlin and Everett High remembered them, and elected officials offered so much help.
“The whole family – we are so encouraged,” she said. “We have lived in Everett the last 19 years. I didn’t expect any of this. It’s a small community. It brought the whole community together in an amazing way. We felt very special. We happy and blessed to live in Everett.”
Conde said his next step is applying to the Journey Forward program, which helps those injured to get back on path of walking.
“It’s been 100 days and now it’s time to move forward,” he said. “We have the application, so we should be hearing from the shortly and if we don’t, we’ll certainly be reminding them.”
Said Mayor DeMaria, “I want to reiterate how proud I am of Everett. It is clear that Everett is so much more than just a city; Everett is a community. And, when a member of our community is in need, we band together and show our true colors.”
Anyone wishing to contribute to Conde’s recovery can donate on the GoFundMe page, ‘Brandon Conde: Spinal Cord Injury Road to Recovery.’